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The team behind Convocation at Humber College asked grads a series of questions ahead of the June 17 virtual convocation celebration.

Students created videos where they recorded themselves answering prompts about their experiences at Humber, like what inspired them this year and what pushed them to cross the finish line.

Some of the clips appeared in the premiere event video, which was broadcast at 2 p.m. on June 17.

Virtual convocation, tangible mementos

Grads received a series of items in the mail leading up to and following virtual convocation.

First, they received a physical invitation in the mail. The following week, a package with some teasers and loot inside arrived on graduates’ doorsteps.

When graduates receive their credentials in the mail, they’ll have access to a more personalized message, this one from President Chris Whitaker. All they need to do is scan the QR code provided and watch Whitaker’s video message. According to the convocation team, if grads watch until the end, they’ll get a comical surprise.

‘Even before the exam, I had interviews lined up’

Claire Haynes hasn’t even graduated yet, and she’s already a full-time funeral director at the Glendale Funeral Home in Etobicoke.

“It’s something I’ve had an interest in since I was 16. I’ve always wanted to help people, and helping them grieve is one thing I can do,” she said.

Haynes travelled to Canada from Barbados to attend Humber College’s Funeral Director Class 1 diploma program and establish herself in the field.

As an International student, Haynes faced some hurdles.

“One of the requirements for an internship is a driver’s license, so I had to get a Canadian drivers’ license, which pushed back my internship,” she said.

Fortunately, her program coordinator was supportive and helped her through the delays. In the end, Haynes extended her internship and completed her exam.

“Even before the exam, I had interviews lined up already. I had everything planned out before graduation.”

‘You should be proud’

Organizers did their best to retain some of the more traditional elements of convocation with modifications. Instead of reading out more than 10,000 names of graduates, the video will include a scroll of graduate names and credentials.

To make it a little more personal, students will have access to a special scroll for each faculty, introduced by a senior dean.

“This is a virtual event, but we want our grads to feel included and invested in it,” said Rhonda Harrison, convocation chair.

“We have digital assets that say ‘I’m a grad,’ and others for proud parents or proud supporters of grads,” said Harrison.

“There are all kinds of supports. We tried to engage them and say, ‘you should be proud!’ You don’t have to be a parent to acknowledge that you support a Humber grad. People are sending congratulations to their husband, a friend, their mom or their dad.”

Virtual convocation also features a shoutouts page, where family members, professors and students can highlight their 2021 graduates.

Like many of her peers, Claire Haynes is feeling reflective. She praises Humber’s program and community and urges other prospective students to follow their dreams.

“Even people from back home, if you have a goal in mind and really want to do something, don’t hesitate to take that next step forward and push yourself,” she said.

“I’ve had my doubts and my struggles, but I have the drive, the motivation to keep going because that’s what I left my country for. You can do it.”